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The situation of left-wing social movements in Colombia



David Graaff,

Members of several communities of the lower Atrato region, northwestern Colombia, protest against the violence. Following their expulsion by paramilitary groups, they campaign for the restitution of their land. Bogotá, December 2017.

Source: Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz

The violence against leftist social movements in Colombia persists, and has even intensified under the right-wing President Iván Duque, who is an opponent of the peace agreement with the FARC.[1] Nevertheless, protests against his neoliberal and repressive politics continue to take place. The different social groups and movements now want to join forces in order to effect sustainable social changes.

Disappointed hopes

In 2016, it seemed like a great opportunity had opened up for Colombia’s social movements. In its peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas the state promised to implement a legal process for dealing with the decades-long conflict, tackle social inequality, and facilitate more political participation. Some people in Indigenous peoples’ and Afro-Colombian organizations, as well as in left-wing grassroots movements, believed that this could lead to the opening up and broadening of democracy, allow for political engagement without the risk of death, and, in the long term, pave the way to toppling the existing power structures. In short, there was hope of fundamentally transforming Colombia, perhaps even with the help of a future left-wing government. Two and a half years later the prospects are sobering. Currently the country is not on the way to the “stable and long-lasting peace” promised by the agreement.[2]

The military stage of the decades-long armed conflict between the Colombian military and the FARC is over. Nevertheless, forced displacement, death threats, and targeted murders are a part of everyday life. Areas where the FARC has withdrawn and left a power vacuum, in particular, experience armed conflicts over territorial control between drug gangs, paramilitary groups, ELN guerrillas,[3] dissidents from the former FARC,[4] and state security forces.

Murders of human rights activists in 2018

Map source: Programa Somos Defensores, La Naranja Mecánica, Bogotá, 2019, p. 91.

The murders take place especially in areas with a high density of coca plantations (Antioquia, Nariño, Putumayo, Caquetá, Meta, and Norte de Santander) and along important drug routes to the Pacific (Valle, Cauca, Nariño) or the Gulf of Urabá (Antioquia) at the border with Panama. However, according to a study by the research institute CINEP, these are not the only factors that explain this “geography of violence”. In the especially affected departamentos there is a strong military presence. There are conflicts over mining and agribusiness land use (e.g. gold mining and sugar cane plantations in the departamento Cauca), or power vacuums have emerged since the retreat of the FARC, whose members have come together once more in reintegration camps in these regions. 

Source: CINEP, ¿Cuáles son los patrones? Asesinatos de Líderes Sociales en el Post Acuerdo, 2018, p. 60.

According to the state “Victims Authority” (Unidad Nacional de Victimas),[5] more than 130,000 people were reported to have been directly affected by the armed conflict in 2018, of which 989 were murdered—which is fewer than in 2016 (the year of the peace agreement). However, 114,889 were displaced (desplazados) which is more than in 2016 and 2017. Although these numbers should be treated with caution, they clearly indicate that armed conflicts over territorial control are on the rise.  

Caught in the Crossfire: Social Organizations

Since 2012 (with the exception of 2016) the organization Somos Defensores has registered a steady increase in attacks on representatives of peasants or small farmers, community spokespeople, environmental activists, teachers or trade unionists who have opposed mega-projects, gold mining, oil production, or fracking on the local level, or who have taken a stand in favour of coca substitution or the return of stolen lands. Stigmatization and death threats, criminal prosecution, and repression of protests are just as much a part of everyday life for their organizations as the murders of activists is.[6] According to a report by the research institute INDEPAZ, 681 “lideres sociales” (literally: social leaders) have been murdered since January 2016.[7] In addition, 139 ex-members of the FARC guerrilla have been killed since its demobilization. In total, around 12,000 people had agreed to submit to the demobilization process.

At the same time, there has only been very slow—if any—progress in regards to the reforms and political arrangements negotiated in the peace agreement. The social forces that view this agreement and the end of the decades-long conflict as a threat to their political and economic interests gained influence when Iván Duque, an opponent of the agreement, took office as president in August 2018. This influence is not only evident in the ongoing political violence, but also in the many obstacles placed in the way of the implementation of the peace process, as well as in the government’s political agenda which has set priorities other than working for peace.

Colombia’s New Government: A Little Bit of Peace, or None?

The peace agreement encompassed several issues. Besides procedural aspects, such as the demobilization and reintegration of combatants, it provided for a number of programs, institutions, and laws:

(a) Measures to improve or change the social situation (allocation of land ownership to small farmers, regional development programs, replacement of drug cultivation),

b) Opportunities for and guarantees of political participation (a statute for the opposition, ten seats in the congress for the FARC, the establishment of a National Security Guarantees Commission),

(c) Measures aimed at investigating and dealing with the crimes committed during the conflict (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Search Unit for Missing Persons, Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Justicia Especial para la Paz, JEP)).

Government officials regularly emphasize the relevance and priority of the peace process when speaking to the international community—which approved of the negotiations and financially supports the implementation of the agreement. But in many areas those same officials fail to act accordingly. Duque’s government is partially implementing some parts of the agreement, such as the reintegration of ex-combatants. In other areas, such as the resolution of the conflict or land restitution, it has attempted to boycott or dilute the agreement. Among other things, the government lacks a majority in parliament for a more far-reaching blockade.  

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Search Unit for Missing Persons, and the JEP receive barely any political support and low levels of funding. For example, the Search Unit for Missing Persons only began its work after considerable delay and with far fewer staff than initially planned. However, the JEP, which stipulates milder penalties for those who assist elucidating crimes committed during the conflict, is under particular attack. Until early June 2019 Duque’s government kept trying to prevent the legislation regulating the tasks and competences of the JEP from coming into force. In so doing, the government wanted to protect social groups that had financed paramilitary groups during the armed conflict and illegally appropriated land from prosecution by the Special Jurisdiction. However, Duque’s attempts failed, first in Congress in April 2019 due to the resistance of an alliance of civil and left-wing forces, and then later also at the beginning of June 2019 in the Constitutional Court.[8]

A striking example of the power struggle between the JEP and the government-affiliated public prosecutor's office was the case of FARC member Jesús Santrich. In April 2018 Nestor Humberto Martínez, who was attorney general at the time, ordered Santrich’s arrest after a US court had requested his extradition. According to the allegations of the court, after his demobilization Santrich was involved in drug trafficking with a Mexican cartel. The Attorney General’s Office claimed sole jurisdiction in the matter and, despite questionable evidence, intended to extradite Santrich.[9]   The JEP was only able to enforce its jurisdiction after months of legal and political tug-of-war, ordering Santrich’s provisional release in mid-May 2019.[10] The case demonstrates the strong US influence on Colombian politics. While President Santos emphasized multilateralism and a cautious realignment of the anti-drug policy as part of his peace efforts, under Duque and Trump there has been an obvious return to asymmetrical bilateralism. Further examples of this change of policy include the will to claim a leadership role for Colombia in the region, support for Juan Guiadó in the Venezuela crisis, and increasing repression in the fight against drug production, including the planned use of the plant poison glyphosate.

The government's new National Development Plan (PND) shows that the peace process and the measures planned in the agreements are only marginal to its agenda. Contrary to what was agreed in Havana, the plan did not initially include a special allowance to finance the peace process. In addition, it weakens the programs meant to allocate and return land and abandons the path—set out in the agreement—which focused on a regional, small-scale farming economy and regional development programs. In terms of security policies, Duque follows his political foster-father Álvaro Uribe, who was president from 2002 to 2010. This means that certain regions affected by the conflict are declared special zones, in which the presence of the state is to be re-established through the arrival of the military. The army has been placed in charge not only of fighting armed groups but also controlling the region and organizing basic services (infrastructure, health care, etc.). In the process, local democratic institutions and the demands of the population are being disregarded.

The Role of the Military

At the conclusion of Uribe’s term of office some of the military leadership questioned the policy of a fight against “internal enemies”, since it did not seem to be leading towards a military victory over the guerrillas and at the same time was claiming a large number of civilian casualties.[11] This situation opened up a path inside the armed forces for a negotiated solution to the conflict, which President Santos took into account with the close involvement of leading military personnel in the peace negotiations. The change in direction, however, was not supported by all factions within the military. Under Duque’s defence minister Guillermo Botero and the newly-appointed military leadership one can observe a rollback to the old doctrine. In May 2019 an article in the New York Times confirmed what grassroots organizations and Human Rights Watch had already been pointing out for some time: at the beginning of the year the military leadership ordered their soldiers to reach higher “final figures” in the fight against illegal groups. Now they are being asked to attack even when they are only 60 to 70 percent sure that they are attacking the correct target. Previously the threshold had been 80 percent. Therefore—according to the New York Times, citing several generals—cases of “questionable killings” have become more frequent.[12]

The Paramilitary Complex

Grassroots organizations in the territorios [13]  are afraid that the increasing militarization will produce more violence instead of improving the situation. Even if the aforementioned figures regarding aggression against activists illustrate the drama of the situation, the problem nevertheless appears to attract scant attention on the international stage.[14] Here exceptions confirm the rule. One example is the outstanding Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez, who was awarded the “Goldman Environmental Prize” in April 2018 for her work against gold mining and the accompanying destruction of the environment. In May 2019 she was attacked: while she was meeting with other Afro-Colombian activists three men fired at the group and threw a hand grenade, injuring two of the bodyguards who had been appointed by the state protection program.

In most cases, however, the victims of attacks are unknown representatives of small local organizations who are active in the peripheries of Colombia. This means that state institutions are hardly present and that the work of activists on the ground is given only scant attention. While people like Francia Márquez—well-known figures from established organizations and networks—are provided with armoured cars and bodyguards, the state-provided protection of grassroots activists, when any is offered at all, often consists merely in the provision of a mobile phone.

According to the research institute CINEP, behind the modus operandi of the aggressors, which is above all to intimidate and murder on the local level, lies the strategy of “undermining the organizational process und therefore sending a message to the stronger and more consolidated organizations that rely on the work being done at the grassroots in local areas.”[15] Attacks against relatively well-protected leadership figures are, on the contrary, more difficult. They receive a lot of attention, including on account of international solidarity efforts, and become the subject of a considerably higher degree of juridical and political pressure. In order to understand the phenomenon and to fight it, it is crucial to ask not who ultimately carried out the crimes but rather who commissioned them, or in whose interests they were carried out. To find that out is much more difficult and the analysis requires a perspective that reaches out beyond the political-institutional framework to also encompass non-state actors and the various power relationships on the local level.

It is primarily right-wing paramilitary organizations, but also ELN guerrillas and dissidents from the FARC, who are typically responsible in cases of violence committed against civilians and activists. Investigators from civil society organizations, however, can often only speculate and cannot always arrive at a clear attribution because the perpetrators either do not reveal themselves, masquerade as members of other groups, pay contract killers, or because those questioned are scared to name them. A study of murders committed since the peace agreement carried out by various Colombian organizations in collaboration with Universidad Nacional mentions 19 activists killed by FARC dissidents, attributes 44 murders to right-wing paramilitary members, and points to 168 cases which it is not currently possible to attribute to any group.[16]


Number of murder victims, “forced disappearances” (desparición forzada), and suspected perpetrators since the signing of the peace treaty at the end of 2016

Source: CINEP, ¿Cuáles son los patrones? Asesinatos de Líderes Sociales en el Post Acuerdo, 2018, p. 31.

Labels in the diagram (in descending order): EPL guerrilla groups; police; private security agencies; ELN guerrilla groups; military; armed civilians, affiliation unclear; FARC guerrilla dissidents; armed groups, affiliation unclear; paramilitary organizations; perpetrator unknown.

During the 1990s and the 2000s the paramilitary groups were organized hierarchically under the umbrella association AUC. Today is it much harder to clearly discern the structure, composition, and strategies of the neo-paramilitary groups. These “narco-paramilitaries” tend to appear in the form of small groups rather than armed units, are ideologically less straightforwardly opposed to left-wing and guerrilla organizations, and act primarily according to particular economic interests, especially within the drug trade. The violence and threats against activists are increasingly outsourced to small, local criminal groups.[17]

However, the “narco-paramilitaries” are only a part of the larger “paramilitary complex”. This involves “a complex set of alliances between organized, armed groups for the purpose of carrying on illegal businesses, and on behalf of para-political and para-economic actors, who have varying degrees of connection with accomplices in the form of state agencies or actors.” [18]  Whether in their own interest or that of their partners, these groups take on administrative functions, for instance “social cleansing” or helping to establish local dictators, thereby exerting control over specific territories.[19] Regarding violence against activists this means that, according to Leonardo Gonzalez from Indepaz, “while the armed groups take over the murder of an activist, the death of this person—who might have been engaged with, for example, the restitution of land that had been stolen for agribusiness, or the protection of water sources from the mining industry—is usually in the interests of staunchly anti-left-wing individuals in the military, for example, or belonging to a local power-group. These actors “pay back the favour” of a murder with another favour, for example in which they turn a blind eye when drugs are smuggled through a region or when an illegal mine is operated. Exactly who these local powers are depends on the economic interests in each region. In one region it might be people with stakes in illegal mines, in another business groups with interests in cane sugar, palm oil, or livestock who, thanks to their political and financial influence over local policies, are the ones with the real power in the area. These small, local elites are accustomed to resolving social and political conflicts with organisations from civil society with the help of violence.[20]

This complex conflict situation has two main implications. Whereas before the actors were mostly able to be clearly identified by the local population before the demobilization of FARC, if people knew “who belonged to whom”, now various actors who continue to fall into feuds with one another are attempting to fill the power vacuum left behind by FARC. Violence thus intensifies while the allegiances and lines of conflict become ever more opaque. The violence against activists seems diffuse and arbitrary. It appears to have neither a central place of command nor a direct political or economic goal. Thus, looked at from the outside, the impression develops—and this is the second main implication—that one is dealing with a state of normalized violent crime (as in neighbour’s disputes or cases of domestic or interpersonal violence). In this way, the broader political and economic context disappears from view.[21]

This distorted perception is reflected not least in government policies, which have so far contributed little to the improvement of the situation. Here, too, we can observe the government’s abandonment of the peace treaty. The uniform approach that was originally planned, which should have enabled and protected political participation and activism—with, among other things, help from the National Commission for Security Guarantees, which was agreed upon in Havana, and a Special Investigations Unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office—has given way to a one-dimensional approach. The government is focusing above all on raising the funding available for the security policies of the relevant authorities, rather than on the structural fight against the problem of political violence.[22]

Social Movements: Pressure on the Street, Success at the Ballot Box?

While both sides at the Havana talks discussed central causes of the armed conflict, the prevailing, neo-liberal and extractivist[23] causes were not broached, nor was the agricultural-industrial regime of accumulation as a whole. Moreover, some Colombian elites viewed the end of the armed conflict with the FARC as a chance to reduce[24]  the high financial and social costs of the conflict and thereby not only intensify the accumulation of capital but also create new opportunities for such accumulation in peripheral regions.[25]  However, it was obvious even before the change of government in 2018 that this would result in the persistence of social conflicts in the affected regions. Similarly, given the kind of social forces[26]  gathered behind the president and the governing party Centro Democrático, it was obvious that once they came to power the conflicts would be further aggravated.

However, the president is not able to pursue his course of action unimpeded. Since the beginning of Duque’s term of office, various groups have repeatedly organized demonstrations, strikes, or blockades against the direction and particular measures of government policy: against the continued violence against activists; against a bill on agriculture aimed at simplifying the allocation of large areas of land to investors and prioritizing mining over small peasants’ land ownership and forms of life; against the intended introduction of fracking; against the neglect of the peace process and the end of negotiations with the ELN guerrillas; against the restriction of rights to autonomy; against the reform of the retirement system; against the further flexibilization of workers’ rights and the underfunding of the public education system.

At the end of 2018, the majority of students at public universities went on a nationwide strike. For several weeks students and professors kept organizing demonstrations which sometimes had several tens of thousands of participants. They protested against the chronic underfunding of the education system, but also against the conditions for student loans and a financing model that fails to guarantee basic funding for universities and is, instead, oriented towards short-term economic demand. This model was already introduced by Santos’s government and has resulted in a redirection of funds to private universities.

The mass mobilization continued after the transition to the New Year in 2019. It began with an indigenous minga[27] in the province of Cauca that blocked the Pan American Highway for nearly a month. The protests then spread to several other regions of the country, in part because they were joined by Afro-Colombian and small peasants’ associations as well as several independent trade unions. Students and the left opposition in Congress showed solidarity with the protesters. The causes for the protests differed locally; ultimately, however, they were always about the conflict in the territorios, the distribution of responsibilities and the right to participate in decision-making on environmental issues, the use of land, the use of strategically important, non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels or fresh water, and issues of public order.

Currently, the social movements associated with the various social groups (trade unions, indigenous and Afro-Colombians, small farmers and peasants, students, environmental organizations, etc.) want to improve their coordination with one another and put aside their different political-ideological backgrounds in view of achieving a united mobilization agenda. Faced with the economic and social policies of Duque’s government, which restrict and threaten people in various areas (peace, extractivism, education, agricultural policy, indigenous rights, labour and retirement pension policies, human rights, etc.), they want to make a more concerted effort to carry their protest over onto the streets. A first step in this direction was the one-day “National Strike” (Paro nacional) at the end of April 2019, during which tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the nation. However, the coordination, or, at the very least, the mutual consultation, necessary for the protests has, so far, only been sporadic. Attempts to change this—for example, through the Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones Sociales (COS) or the “National Conference of Political and Social Organizations” (ENOSP), which took place in February 2019—are still in their infancy, at least according to the assessment of Jimmy Moreno, one of the spokespersons of Congreso de los Pueblos, an umbrella association for social grassroots organizations.

The coming months will feature more mobilizations against government policies. Activities against the bill on agriculture, which is about to be passed through the Congress, are under way. Resistance is beginning to take shape in the regions that would be affected by fracking, and is finding support among the middle class.  

Beside mobilization in the streets, activities during the upcoming month are also focused on the upcoming regional and local elections on 27 October 27 2019 and beyond. In this context, another strategic challenge for social organizations with an emancipatory focus will be to turn the voices of protest into votes, and to connect social struggles and mobilization on the street with opposition to institutions, so that the protest can also translate into electoral success. The relative political weakness of the Left in Colombia is possibly still a consequence of the stigmatization and loss of credibility that alternative left-wing politics experienced during the years of the armed conflict with the guerrillas. (When the FARC became a party it only won 0.34 percent of the votes in the nationwide elections last year.) So far, cross-sector alliances in elections have been the result of contingent alignments rather than long-range strategy. This became particularly obvious during the second round of the presidential elections in June 2018. Gustavo Petro was able to gain 41.8 percent of the vote, a record result for a left-wing candidate, one that arose because it had been possible to gather the most of the political and social left behind one candidate. However, this alliance dissolved as swiftly as it had been built once Petro was defeated.

Time and again some grassroots organizations bring the poder popular into play (literally: people's power, more accurately: power from below), which relies on the self-organization of the popular classes.[28] The independent political and social organization of the popular classes should lead to the establishment of parallel institutions “from below”. These should either pose an alternative to or replace the structures of bourgeois politics and their institutions. In the form of self-governing structures, collective ownership, and alternative jurisprudence, poder popular is not uncommon in the territorios of indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, and small peasants, but it is rare in trade unionist circles or urban milieus. The reasons for this situation are obvious: it is barely possible to achieve fundamental changes in social conditions within the Colombian model, where power relations are armored with violence and characterized by democratic deficits. The state of the peace process with the FARC and the course of negotiations with the ELN demonstrate the situation. During negotiations with the ELN the attempts to tackle broader structural problems led to little progress and in the end the talks failed completely, partly because of the political short-sightedness of the ELN.

The development of the social umbrella organization Marcha Patriotica and of the current FARC party shows how dangerous it can be to depend on a centrist organization which concentrates its political energy on participation in elections and strives for institutional representation. Since the demobilization of the guerrillas and the founding of the party in 2017, many of the former member-organizations of the Marcha Patriotica have lost their power to mobilize. Although the umbrella organization used to be an important factor in the different mobilization scenarios of the past years, nowadays it is barely visible as a national actor. Previous leaders of the organization are now reassembling within FARC party structures, where they work on consolidating its position within the political system.

While the political violence will continue in the near future, left social movements also face the strategic challenge of interweaving their social struggles with the activities of political parties in such a way that the latter do not dominate the former and the transformation of social power relations “from below” remains the focus.

David Graaff lives in Medellín, teaches and researches at the National University of Colombia, and writes about Colombia for various media as a freelance journalist.


[1] Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – —Ejército del Pueblo‚ En.: The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – —People's Army.

[2] This is the formulation in the title of the agreement: “Final agreement for the end of the conflict and the construction of a stable and long-lasting peace”.

[3] In February 2019, Duque’s government broke off the peace negotiations with the ELN which had begun under the previous government of President Santos following the ELN’s attack on a police station in Bogotá that killed 22 people. The ELN (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional) was the second largest guerrilla group in Colombia after the FARC. The number of its members increased after the demobilization of the FARC. According to a report by the news agency Reuters, military intelligence currently estimates it at 2,400 fighters. Cf. Mathew Di Salvo, “FARC dissident groups grown to have 2300 guerrillas since 2016 peace deal: report”, Colombia Reports, 6.6.2019, see: In addition to this, according to observers there are an unknown number of militiamen who work as civilians for the ELN.

[4] The number of groups that have emerged from former FARC structures is, depending on the source, between 18 and 31, the number of members between 1,200 and 2,400. Di Salvo, ibid.

[5] Unidad de Víctimas, Registro Único de Víctimas, 2019, See (As of: 5.6.2019).

[6] Programa Somos Defensores, La Naranja Mecánica, Bogotá, 2019.

[7] Indepaz, “Todos los nombres todos los rostros”, Separata de actualización, 30.4.2019.

[8] As a result of this opposition to government policy, an intersectoral movement of politicians, academics, social organizations, and artists called "Defendamos la Paz” was born, which pretends to insist on the fulfilment of the peace agreement through different collective methods.

[9] The charges against Santrich in the USA were based—as far as is publicly known—on video and audio material produced by agent provocateurs during meetings and phone calls with Santrich. They were commissioned by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Its mission is, among other things, to prevent drug trafficking into the USA. According to Santrich’s defense, it was a case of entrapment, as the supposed business partners convinced Santrich that they were interested in the productive projects of former FARC fighters. Santrich’s arrest and possible extradition had repercussions on the peace process in so far as it generally undermined the demobilized FARC fighters’ trust in state institutions and their adherence to the peace agreements. Iván Márquez, a member of the party executive and a negotiator in Havana, went underground immediately after Santrich’s arrest in April 2018.

[10] On 30 June 2019 authorities reported that Santrich, who after his release positioned himself as a congressman, abandoned his security plan during a visit to a reintegration camp. At the time of writing, his whereabouts are unknown and the FARC party is now considering the expulsion of Santrich from its ranks.

[11] Andrés Bermúdez Liévano, Los debates de La Habana: una mirada desde adentro, no place given, 2019, p. 26.

[12] Nicholas Casey, “Colombia Army’s New Kill Orders Send Chills Down Ranks”, 18.5.2019. See

[13] The term territorios (literally: territories) is a key concept for the Latin American left. It assumes that the social struggles take place in those places where people live in neighbourhoods or rural regions, where the conflicts that can be traced back to the capitalist regime of accumulation unfold. In Colombia, the conflicts are often sparked by extractivism—the economy based on the extraction of natural resources, that is, for example, on the fact that a territory is to be mined. While investors and policymakers often prioritize development opportunities for the region (jobs, infrastructure improvement, etc.), popular protests against the threat of environmental damage, such as spoiling the region's natural water reservoirs, also emphasize the importance of alternative and sustainable development models built on traditional lifestyles.

[14] Protests and campaigns by organizations of civic society in Colombia and in Europe have recently made the problem more visible. For example, on July 26th 2019, thousands of people in Colombian Cities and places around the world took the streets claiming for more protection of social leaders.This is also the aim of the initiative “Defend life” (“Defendamos la Vida”), which eleven EU embassies in Colombia launched in early June.  

[15] CINEP, Violencia camuflada. La base social en riesgo, 2019, p. 7, See Unless stated otherwise, translations of non-German sources are by the author.

[16] CINEP, ¿Cuáles son los patrones? Asesinatos de Líderes Sociales en el Post Acuerdo, 2018, See:

[17]Indepaz, ibid.

[18] Camilo González Posso, “El complejo paramilitar se transforma”, 4.3.2017, p. 4, See

[19] Ibid.

[20] David Graaff, “Paramilitärs versuchen, das Machtvakuum zu füllen”, Neues Deutschland, 2.9.2017.

[21] CINEP, ibid., p. 5.

[22] Diana Sánchez, “PAO para proteger a líderes sociales: ¿reedición de la seguridad democrática?”, Semana Rural, 7.2.2019, at

[23] The term “extractivism” refers to the economic model based on the exploitation of natural resources.

[24] Nazih Richani, “Fragmented Hegemony and the Dismantling of the War System in Colombia”, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 2019.

[25] Forrest Hylton and Aaron Tauss, “Peace in Colombia: A New Growth Strategy”, NACLA Report on the Americas 2018, no. 3, pp. 253–259.

[26] According to Richani, the capitalist faction benefiting from the Colombian war system consists primarily in those whose interests are in the use, exploitation, and depletion of land (rural elites, livestock/cattle breeders, speculators, agribusiness, and multinational enterprises active in the area of extactivism), Richani, ibid., p. 12.

[27] The expression from the Quechua languages originally means “joint work effort“ or “commitment to the common good.”

[28] Popular class (“clases populares”) is the plural social subject of the lower social classes (campesinos, indigenous people, workers, students etc.). The term derives literally from pueblo (En: people).